The delightful music salon of the Murase home in Hang
Dong was once again the setting for a dynamic and thrilling recital,
delivered this time by the young and confident Sek Thongsuwan on Friday 30th
July. With all the available seats occupied, Sek gave the audience a
powerful performance of a wide range of pieces ranging from those of His
Majesty the King and traditional northern Thai folk music to Rachmaninoff,
Mozart and Debussy. Sek, currently the first Thai to study at the famous St
Petersburg Music Conservatoire in Russia, has a wonderful presence at the
piano – he plays with great confidence and determination and sprinkles his
performance with a deep passion and love for the music in which he both
revels and excels. One of his many great achievements and qualities is his
ability to play the legato passages as the composers intended – in a gently
lilting manner and with perfect phrasing. This was evident in all of the
four pieces he played by Rachmaninoff. He managed to capture the beauty of
the thematic material and carefully balanced this with the faster more
energetic passages which he played with significant power and passion. In
another Russian piece, Scriabin’s Etude, Sek successfully combined
the very romantic and gently flowing main melody with the more demanding and
vibrant central passages – the overall effect being a beautifully rounded
and concise interpretation that left the audience wondering where they had
heard that tune before. When playing one of Chopin’s Nocturnes, Sek
showed that he was equally at home with west European romantic music as he
was with Russian music. The Chopin piece was again a beautifully rounded
interpretation full of feeling and delicacy. The final work, Debussy’s
celebrated Ile Joyeuse, was given a heavily dramatic interpretation
with perfect fingering and in a version that captured every nuance of this
very challenging and difficult piece.
Quite naturally, the audience demanded more at the end of
the recital and were rewarded with a piece of music written by Sek himself
and dedicated to his Russian fianc้e Olga who had flown in from St
Petersburg the day before and who had joined us for the performance. This
delectable little gem of music rounded off a perfect evening of first class
classical entertainment with a very enthusiastic capacity audience giving
this young player a resounding vote of thanks and much-deserved
The following morning, Sek, full of self-confidence,
presented a Master Class at the Santi School of Music to a smaller but
nevertheless enthusiastic audience. Several young budding pianists from the
school were taught many additional and useful skills as each presented their
chosen works. Sek helped them relax their arms and wrists so as to mollify
and smooth their playing; he helped them adopt a better posture on the piano
stool and showed them how to use the pedals correctly for maximum effect.
Most importantly he helped them understand each musical phrase and how to
play each one without losing the overall flow of the music. This was a
marvelous opportunity for some would-be future performers to learn from a
slightly older Thai performer already causing something of a sensation here
in his native country as well as in Russia. Overall, these were very special
events that brought power and passion to the Chiang Mai musical scene with a
presence that will not be easily forgotten.
By The Computer Quack
Last week we discussed Desktop Computers, now Laptops.
You want one because you genuinely do want to carry it around. But why? Are
you doing presentations to clients? Do you need a 18” screen, and you really
don’t mind carrying around 10lbs of extra weight? Or are you looking for a
machine that slips in your hand luggage, adds 3-5 pounds, and has a battery
life exceeding most long haul flights?
That’s when you start choosing between a Netbook and a
Netbooks are typically in the 9”-12” screen size, small
form factor and have that battery life you crave. Ideal for watching movies
when you’ve seen everything on the in-flight entertainment. They’re good on
aircraft when the selfish pig (or sow) in front of you shoves his or her
seat back in your face before the seat belt light’s even gone out. They come
with decent keyboards that don’t mind your fat fingers (I’m typing this on
my netbook). They don’t normally need an extra bag because they’re small.
They have wifi, USB ports and in many cases a 16:9 screen, handy for
watching movies. OK they don’t have a built-in DVD drive, but you can buy a
slim, portable BluRay-do-everything-drive for under $150 nowadays if proper
discs are your way to go. (With USB flash drives going up to 64Gb and beyond
now, you can still watch BluRay without having to resort to a DVD drive
They generally have an Atom processor, running at 1.6Ghz,
and they’ll run Windows 7 relatively comfortably if you have enough RAM.
They’ll start pretty quickly too, if you don’t have 50 programs in your
Startup (hint: Take a look at Soluto.com).
They come pretty cheap as well, 15,000 baht buying you an
adequate travelling machine with Internet and Office application capability
(I run Office 2010 on mine and it doesn’t hurt a bit).
Then again, you might want to run a monster Windows game,
so now it’s time to start looking at Notebooks, which pretty well seems to
be a euphemism for laptop these days.
You’re going to pay more, but you should get a decent
n-Vidia or ATI graphics card, a decent sized screen, a multifunction (DVD
and CD read/write) optical drive, card reader, inbuilt Wifi to name the
They’re going to weigh twice as much, but they’ll do many
a job that the Netbook doesn’t. And they’ll be going on for twice the price.
Maybe not good for aircraft, put OK to pop in your car and drive from office
to office, or house to coffee shop. Battery life may be lower, but nowadays
4+ hours is not hard to find, which should be enough to last you away from a
Are there other options? Not quite right now, but this
year could well be the year of the tablet PC. The success of the iPad (admittedly
mainly down to Apple’s insatiable and easily-pleased customer base) has
woken up the industry, and all of the big manufacturers are looking at
tablet form PCs. Many of them will run Windows 7, so they will have proper
support for USB devices and so on. Other vendors are looking at Android
versions (if you remember, I mentioned Android in an earlier column, as a
decent alternative to the over-priced iPhone’s iOS).
Many of these tablets will run nVidia’s “Tegra”
technology, which brings a whole new platform of low-power but powerful
processing and graphics performance to the market. Others will run new Intel
1.8Ghz Dual core Atom processors and new nVidia Optimus graphics technology
which will optimize the use of power depending on what you’re doing. This
technology is already in manufacture, and the first to harness it, the ASUS
1215N, is a 12” Netbook that comes in at a remarkable price of around under
17,000 baht if blog reports are accurate. Funnily enough, ASUS are also the
first to look at a “convertible” Netbook – the eee Pad EP121 - with a
detachable screen, which then becomes a Touchscreen tablet; this will
probably run Windows 7, and it’s expected to hit the market later this year
if all goes well.
So there you are. First pick your budget. Then decide if
you want to move your computer regularly. Then decide how much you want to
move it, and what you really want it for. Then wait until the first quarter
of 2010 when all the new toys that hit the market in time for the holiday
season suddenly become the golden nuggets in the January sales.
One last thing to consider, a subject which was discussed
in depth last week, is the issue of refurbished computers. If you can trust
them, they are a great opportunity to buy a new machine at a discounted
What I learned this week is that “refurbished” doesn’t
just mean second hand. Yes, in some cases a defective part has led to a
machine being returned. But it’s replaced, and the machine added to the
refurbished PC market. In other cases, they’ve simply been returned because
the buyer doesn’t like them and is exercising his rights under his purchase
agreement. The manufacturers can’t sell these machines as new, so they offer
them to the refurbished market, but they generally work just fine and still
have the warranty, and can be a great way of purchasing a new computer at a
much reduced price.
Certainly something to consider if you need to buy now,
want a higher specification machine (Desktop or portable) but can’t afford
to buy it new. There are many manufacturers that do refurbished machines, so
it’s certainly worth investigating.
Does that clarify things? Good, because this is point
where I finish my drink, bid you adios, and send you on your way to ponder
your budget, your needs and your personal preferences, because I’m not going
to decide for you. You are. That way you can’t come back and moan at me for
pointing you in the wrong direction.
Oh, and you may wonder why I haven’t mentioned Apple. I
consider them to be very pretty, but overpriced, and I don’t like being
force fed what Steve Jobs decides to give me. If you really are
uncomfortable around computers, the simple to use and almost unbreakable Mac
may be a good choice. You can go and research that one yourself.
As usual, your questions and comments can be addressed to
[email protected] gmail.com.